Fossil Fuels : The most convenient energy sources are based on fossil fuels. The main fossil fuels are Oil, Coal and Gas. We are running out of fossil fuels. Just how quickly is a matter of debate, economics, a lot of politics and some wars.
The UK used to produce most of its own coal, but now relies on overseas production. The UK was a net exporter of gas until last few years, since when we have to import gas. And oil reserves in North Sea are depleting faster than originally thought.
Unfortunately, most of the oil now being consumed in the world is occurring on the other side of the world where there are the greatest reserves. "We consume" about 84 million barrels a day" most coming from the Middle East.
'Peak' Oil refers to the maximum rate of the production of oil in any area under consideration, recognising that it is a finite natural resource, subject to depletion. For much more on Fossil Fuels
Renewable energies are those that are not going to run out soon. These include harnessing wind solar and water power.While offering pollution free options, they are unlikely to meet the demands in the near future and are likely to be met with opposition - particularly to windfarms on land. Renewable Energy UK
Nuclear power does not produce the CO2 of fossil fuels but is not really renewable as its relies on uranium which is a finite resource. There are government plans to redevelop nuclear in UK to meet the increased demands for energy. But nuclear is not as mobile as oil, so nuclear powered cars are unlikely. Wiki - Nuclear
Biofuels - energy derived from plant matter, have become very popular in the last few years, as they offer the possibility of utilising the sun's energy better. There are 4 major sorts of biofuels - cellulose based (eg wood/grass), bioethanol (from sugar cane & beet), biodiesel (from palm, rape oils & recycled cooking oil) and that from algae (oilgae). Fill up an SUV's fuel tank with ethanol and you have used enough maize to feed a person for a year For more on Biofuels
Organisations are starting to look at their energy usage much more closely. Increasing costs, concerns about oil security, and global warming are focusing people's attention to make imporvements. For more about energy and global warming see Unit 8
Costs of energy have risen rapidly in the last few years (see Energy Choice). Wholesale electricity and gas prices rose by 60% in 2008. Oil prices now go above $100 a barrel. Gas prices have risen as the UK has to use other overseas sources (eg Gazprom, Russia - check their Energy Efficiency Guide).
There is talk that the UK coal industry, virtually demolished a generation ago, may be needed again. Only this time there will have to be Carbon Capture and Storage.
Energy Efficiency concentrates on how much energy is used. Energy efficiency looks at how the energy is being used, rather than where it comes from finite or renewable supplies.
If companies used ordinary motors to efficent mators and ordinary lighting to automatically dimming lighting and the best-off-the-shelf improvements into their buildings, lighting etc (ie no new technology needed), this could cut consumption by 75%. More in Natural Capitalism (summary pdf). So why don't they?
Energy Efficiency is part of a wider thrust for resource efficiency called Factor Four